Commentary, Opinion

It pays to listen to one’s inner self

By Sas Carey

Editor’s note: Sas Carey’s new book, “Marrying Mongolia,” is being published by the International Polar Institute and will be released in February 2023. Her healing practice in Middlebury can found The documentaries and Mongolian work can be found at

When you follow your inner guidance or calling, amazing things can happen. For instance, I went to Mongolia, a place I never dreamed of going. A place described by my mother as the farthest and most unusual place on earth, as in “he would go to Outer Mongolia to find her.”

As a nurse and healer, I first went to Mongolia in 1994 on a tour with the American Holistic Nurses Association. I fell in love with the steppe smells, the colorful deel, or traditional clothing, and the whispery language. My goal was to learn about traditional Asian medicine. When I met Dr. Boldsaikhan, a doctor who used a combination of traditional Mongolian and Western medicine, the words, “Would you take an American disciple?” fell out of my mouth. They came from some deep place.

“Yes,” he said.

In 1995, I returned with Kathleen Scacciaferro of Bristol to study traditional Mongolian with him for three months. Dr. Boldsaikhan called my method of energy healing “psychic massage” since I do not touch the patient. The purpose in Mongolian medicine, whether changing diet, lifestyle behavior, herbs, or manual treatment herbs near certain energy points), or acupuncture is to balance the patients’ energy. Just like energy healing.

During our studies, Dr. Boldsaikhan took us to the countryside to introduce us to Mongolian medicine plants. He stopped at the ger, or yurt, of a nomadic herder to ask directions. There were no roads and certainly no road signs. For the second time with my teacher, I had an inner experience. This time words did not come but I felt I was watching a movie set when the low ger door opened and a woman in a bright blue silk deel with a man in navy ducked out. Dr. Boldsaikhan spoke to them and soon we were on our way.

Nearly a decade later, I got an inner message to make a documentary of that lifestyle. In between, I had worked as a short-term health educator for the United Nations. I learned that women of the Gobi Desert used only five liters of water a day. They found a way to make it meet their needs. When I got the message to make a movie on the Gobi women’s lives, I was meditating in a rocking chair at home in Middlebury. Five liters? Doesn’t the rest of the world need to know how this is possible? We in Vermont used about that much with one flush.

This started the next phase of my work in Mongolia: making documentaries about Mongolian traditional nomadic lifestyle. I was never trained as a filmmaker, but made a feature documentary called “Gobi Women’s Song” followed by three more features films about nomadic life.

What I have learned is you never know what you will be asked to do. Yet, when you listen and say, “yes” to a message from your deepest self, a way opens for you to do it.

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